Bonhams Amelia Island, Fernandina Beach Golf Club, Amelia Island, Florida, March 12, 2015
Bonhams returned to Amelia Island in 2015 after a long absence, having previously stuck its toe in the water in 2000 with a sale under the Brooks Auctioneers banner at the Amelia Island Plantation.
After selling just nine lots for a total of $1.2 million, Brooks beat a strategic retreat but Bonhams will not have to reconsider Amelia for 2016, having secured an excellent location and put together an exceptionally successful first time sale. Two of the lots sold in 2015, the mouth watering Cord Front Drive L-29 Murphy Town Car and the American Underslung 50hp Runabout, each sold for one-third more than the total sale in 2000.
Remarkably, of Bonhams top ten sales six were of prewar automobiles. a performance that should be cited every time some skeptic holds forth that the prewar car market is in decline. Two of them, the 1908 American Underslung and a 1912 Peerless 60hp Runabout, were pre-WWI. [A brief ride in the Peerless, an 824 cubic inch six-cylinder torque monster, demonstrated just what an exhilarating experience a car like that can be.]
Bonhams location is highly visible, set on the grounds of the Fernandina Beach Golf Club directly across from the airport and on the main access road to the Ritz Carlton and Amelia Island Plantation. Unless you’re driving up from the Mayport ferry or along the beach on A1A Bonhams was the first sign of the Amelia Island week auto activities. Although parking was at the airport about a half mile away Bonhams kept up a steady stream of luxury shuttles that kept the wait down to five minutes or less; their air conditioning was a welcome relief from the North Florida heat and humidity, too.
The undoubted star of the auction was the 1930 Cord Front Drive L-29 Town Car with coachwork by Murphy. Now definitively linked to movie star Dolores Del Rio, it had star quality presence and brought one of the most enthusiastic bidding contests of the week’s three auctions and a bottle of champagne for the eventual successful bidder. It also brought some tears to the eyes of the late seller’s daughter.
Andrew Newton contributed many of the on-site observations at this auction; the edits and comments are the responsibility of the editor.
Bonhams Amelia Island 2015 – Auction Report